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3.30.2007

support journey from the fall

Here's a box office tracking article highlighting how Ham Tran's Journey From The Fall and Mira Nair's The Namesake kicked ass at the box office last weekend. With a total gross of $2.64 million in just three weeks, The Namesake is quickly becoming the first major indie hit of the new year. And Journey From The Fall, distributed by ImaginAsian Pictures, which actually didn't do very well at ImaginAsian's own theater in New York, was a mad crazy hit in San Jose and Orange County...

Speaking of Journey From The Fall, someone forwarded me this impassioned email from director Ham Tran, responding to a negative review by critic Scott Foundas:

Hi everyone,

I would like to ask for your help to respond to the movie review written by Scott Foundas at the Village Voice, and syndicated by the OC Weekly. The following is his movie review:

JOURNEY FROM THE FALL
The fall of the title is that of South Vietnam and the journey is the long and arduous trek to America undertaken by one persecuted family--the wife, mother, and son of an unrepentant counter-revolutionary--while their absent patriarch rots in a Communist "re-education" camp. Beautifully made and sincere to a fault, Journey From the Fall comes touted by its writer-director, Ham Tran, as the Vietnamese equivalent of Schindler's List; in reality, the film carries
stronger echoes of The Joy Luck Club, as it juxtaposes grueling torture and heroic escape against the sometimes equally Sisyphean struggles of settling into a new life in a new country. Such intentions can't be faulted, and Tran's film is laudable as one of the few movies to depict Vietnam and its aftermath through the eyes of the Vietnamese. But at a moment when directors as varied as Clint Eastwood, Paul Verhoeven, and Ken Loach are discovering innovative and meaningful ways of dramatizing the great man-made atrocities of the 20th century, Tran's reliance on declamatory political dialogue and movie-of-the-week inspirationalism feels decidedly old-fashioned and, finally, even phony. (Scott Foundas)"


It's not that I mind getting a bad movie review, but to call this film "phony" is exactly the kind of ignorant mentality that we have had to struggle against in the last 30 years. It is the kind of language that has excluded our community's terrible ordeals from historical consciousness. This reviewer needs to know that what the speech in the re-education camp that the communist official lectures to the prisoners is not what he calls "declamatory political dialogue," but they are the actual words lectured by the communists to the re-education camp prisoners. Chu Son, who is the person who plays the communist
lecturer, recited that entire speech by heart because it was what the communist forced him to memorize. This speech is by far not "scripted"; these are the words that he was forced to listen to every night for 3 years, until they are forever burned into his memory.

I need your help to reply directly to the publishers for OC Weekly and the Village Voice. The link below is the review and you can click on "Contact Us about this article" to respond: http://www.ocweekly.com/film/new-reviews/new-reviews/26919/?page=2

Please lend your voice to speak out against such ignorance that has kept our story silent for so many years. We need to demand a public apology from these publishers. We need to this critic know that this film is not just a dreamt up story, but that this film depicts the actual experiences of millions of Vietnamese refugees. His comment on the film is an insult the true hardships that our people have had to endure, and it must not be taken lightly.

Thank you very much, and please continue to get your family and friends to come out and support this film.

Take care,
Ham Tran

Like Ham says, he's not complaining about a bad review... he's just taking issue with the misguided ignorance expressed by Foundas here. I think it's the "phony" part that really stings, especially since this story resonates so deeply with the thousands of Vietnamese Americans who really lived through it.

For those waiting for Journey From The Fall to hit your city... the movie opens today in Houston and Dallas, and next week in San Diego and Arlington, VA. Check the website for the full list of theaters and dates. Let's hope the film has another killer weekend at the box office.

UPDATE: Here's Foundas' contact info: Scott Foundas, Film Editor, LA Weekly, 6715 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles CA 90028, sfoundas@laweekly.com.